Lockett's return ignites Seahawks' rout
SEATTLE (AP) After the Seahawks sleepwalked for a half, Tyler Lockett provided a jolt.
From there Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham and a defense that was whole again after the return of safety Kam Chancellor took over.
Lockett returned the second-half kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown, Wilson and Graham connected on a 30-yard TD in the third quarter, and the Seahawks routed the undermanned Chicago Bears 26-0 on Sunday.
Seattle led just 6-0 at halftime after an offensive performance that led to a cascade of boos. That changed when Lockett started a huge second half running untouched on a perfectly executed return, the longest in franchise history.
It was Lockett’s second touchdown return of the season, taking a punt back 57 yards in the opener.
”We know we have a great weapon in him and we just hope we’ll continue to find ways to spring him and be a factor,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Later in the quarter, Wilson found Graham across the middle for his second touchdown catch of the season and Steven Hauschka added four field goals as the Seahawks started the process of erasing an 0-2 start.
Not all went well for Seattle. Starting running back Marshawn Lynch capped a strange day by leaving at halftime with a hamstring injury. Lynch finished with 14 yards on five carries and spent half of the first quarter in the locker room before coming to the Seahawks bench. Lynch was questionable entering the game with a calf injury.
Carroll said Lynch could not get loose before the game, but tried to play. The hamstring was checked and ”it’s nothing to be alarmed by,” Carroll said.
Starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane also suffered a groin injury in the first quarter and did not return. There was no update on Mebane’s prognosis.
Chicago (0-3) was shut out for the first time since 2002 and the fourth time since 1990. Jimmy Clausen started at quarterback in place of Jay Cutler and was 9 of 17 for 63 yards. With sacks included, the Bears finished with 48 net yards passing, the second time since 1990 they finished with less than 50 net yards through the air.
Chicago punted on all 10 of its possessions. Matt Forte was held to 74 yards on 20 carries and the Bears finished with just 37 yards in the second half.
Only one Chicago drive finished in Seattle territory, and the Bears ran just three plays on the Seahawks’ half of the field.
”We didn’t protect real well, we didn’t execute real well in the passing game whether it was routes protection or delivery of the ball,” Chicago coach John Fox said.
Seattle’s offensive line had a forgettable first half. Wilson was sacked twice by a Chicago defense that had zero entering the game. Seattle punted three times and failed on all six third-down attempts.
That changed in the third quarter. Wilson was 5 of 5 for 110 yards in the quarter and Seattle outgained Chicago 162-24. Seattle finally converted a third-down when Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for 22 yards midway through the period and the Seahawks capped the drive with Graham’s first touchdown at home. Wilson was protected long enough to find Graham coming open across the middle, watching the big tight end step away from Brock Vereen for the TD.
”I’m definitely not the first option there, but it was just a great pitch and catch,” Graham said.
Wilson finished 20 of 30 for 235 yards, while Graham had seven catches for 83 yards a week after getting just one catch. Lynch’s replacement became undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls, who flashed by rushing for 104 yards, 98 in the second half.
Even before Lockett’s return, Seattle used a bit of trickery on special teams. Running the same misdirected punt return that St. Louis used against them last season for a touchdown, the Seahawks caught Chicago napping. Instead of Lockett catching the punt near the Chicago sideline, it was Richard Sherman catching it on the sideline in front of the Seattle bench and returning it 64 yards to set up Hauschka’s first field goal.
”I think they trusted by ability and my savvy to go out there and execute it during the game,” Sherman said.
NOTES: Seattle’s last shutout was Dec. 15, 2013 at the New York Giants, a 23-0 victory. … Chancellor started at strong safety but was occasionally subbed for backup DeShawn Shead. Chancellor received mostly loud ovations when introduced during pregame. … Last time Bears were shut out was Week 17 of 2002 season, a 15-0 loss to Tampa Bay. … Seahawks set franchise record with crowd of 69,002 made possible through small stadium expansion in offseason.
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